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What Is in Toothpaste?


We use it every day. This pale looking paste or gel that keeps our mouths fresh and clean. Toothpaste: a wonderful invention.

Lately, however, we find ourselves asked what are toothpaste’s ingredients, especially by our younger patients. At our family dentistry in Pacifica, we decided to keep everyone in the know with our latest dentist trivia article.

6 Ingredients of Toothpaste


These are the ingredients that give our toothpaste its cleaning capabilities. Detergents are the cleaning solvents that dissolve undissolvable substances. These substances include anything from plaque, food particles and bacteria.

The most common detergent is sodium lauryl sulfate, which is known for creating bubbles in soap.


You may be worried now. Abrasives? The same ones that can scratch our skin? Why would I want to use an abrasive on sensitive gum tissue?

While abrasives do rub against the tooth and gum surface, this is what you want. Without abrasives, such as mica, in toothpaste, the paste or gel would not break apart the food particles and plaque on your teeth. Additionally, they are gentle enough not to damage these surfaces, so you’re safe.

Abrasives are also what polish the teeth, making them white and shiny.


You would be surprised to know that toothpaste without any flavoring would be bland and a little gross. That is why most toothpaste manufacturers put mint or sweet-tasting flavors in toothpaste. Not only does it mask the chemical taste, but it also places positive reinforcement on brushing. If it tastes good, you’ll do it again.


Fluoride is a natural occurring mineral. It reinforces tooth enamel, prevent plaque buildup and tooth decay. It is normally found in the public water supply, but if you are not drinking enough water, toothpaste with fluoride can be helpful.

Do not swallow the toothpaste, however. It will upset your stomach.

Moisture Retainers

You know what happens if you leave a drop of toothpaste on the sink. It dries up. Moisture retainers, such as glycerine, are added to toothpaste to make sure they remain in that fresh semi-liquid state in the tube.   


Since water is an ingredient in most toothpaste, a preservative is added to kill off microbes and bacteria.

Each toothpaste is different and has different ingredients. It depends on the toothpaste brand. If you have health or ethical issues against certain ingredients, make sure to check. Natural toothpaste is an option.

Need a Dentist in Pacifica, California?

If you need dental care in Pacifica, whether it is cosmetic dentistry or preventative dentistry, our Pacifica dentists can help. Contact us and leave our dental firm with a smile.